VA committee member says 'slow and steady' on antiquated VA electronic health-records process

Elizabeth Howe
March 08, 2019 - 10:38 am
VA Claim Process Medical Record

Photo courtesy of County of San Luis Obispo

VA's $16 billion project to modernize its health records system is over budget — and over a decade from completion. But certain lawmakers, including ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Rep. Phil Roe (R - Tenn.), believe "slow and steady wins the race." 

“VA is undertaking the largest electronic health record transition in U.S. history," Roe said in a statement after hearings this week discussed the delays and budget overages of the project. "We have no illusions about the complexity and difficulty involved, and we have not been bashful about expressing our high expectations to justify the incredible expense. Without a doubt, the 10-year implementation timeline is lengthy. However, we believe the worst thing VA could do at this juncture is rush the project along."

The current system used by VA to house health-records was introduced in 1981. Modernizing the system involves mapping all 131 domains into the new Cerner electronic health record system. According to the Washington Times, of those 131, 22 domains have been mapped so far — those domains included 5 billion records.

RELATED: Apple unveils iPhone health records to veterans

As of now, the modernized electronic health-record program should be implemented in pilot locations in March 2020. Roe assured members of Congress that this timeline also has the potential to be accelerated.

"There may be opportunities to accelerate the pace in the future after the Cerner electronic health record is successfully installed in the first several medical centers," Roe said. "But until then it needs to be done right, not fast. Slow and steady wins the race.”

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.